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All I Want For Christmas Is … A Lush Advent Calendar

With Christmas around the corner, now’s the time to start prepping gifts. My wish is simple this year. I want a Lush Advent Calendar.

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Have You Seen Their Gorgeous Box?

I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging — and the design of the Lush Advent Calendar can’t be prettier. Inspired by a magical midnight wonderland, London-based designer Sally Kelly has created a vibrant piece bursting with colourful florals and rich detail. The reusable trunk is also made from 100% recycled materials, so you can repurpose it for storage and even gifting. Definitely something I’d be proud to have in my room as both a decorative and practical piece of furniture.

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Lush Products, Duh

I love Lush products, not just for their quality and creative offerings, but their stance on sustainability. Each Lush Advent Calendar comes with 25 vegan products to discover, one for every day and night leading up to Christmas Day. It’s like celebrating Christmas, right up til Christmas! If you’re the impatient kind, you can always just open all of them at once. 😛

Take a trip down memory lane with four retro products from Lush Christmas past, like the Cinder Bath Bomb, Christmas Penguin Bubble Bar and Keep It Fluffy Perfume; or try out the six new products that are exclusively available in the Lush Advent Calendar, including Kris Mouse Bubble Bar, Merry Christmas Shower Gel, and Sleepy Bath Bomb.

The Lush Advent Calendar will be available online from 18th October at lush.my, and in-stores from 19th October, priced at RM1,299.

Now. Fingers crossed someone will fulfil my wish for me. 😛

*Photos courtesy of LUSH.

*In the spirit of the festive season, why not buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon? 🙂

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My First Book Subscription Box: Bookish Bundle

Subscription boxes were first introduced over a decade ago as a clever marketing strategy – but in the last few years, it has grown into a niche market of its own. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of receiving a box filled with curated goodies? The mystery of its contents just adds to the anticipation and excitement.

In Malaysia, subscription box services are still fairly rare, with most of them centred around beauty or food – so I was surprised to find that we have one that caters to book lovers as well. Enter Bookish Bundle, a bi-monthly book subscription service which has been around since 2016. Run by a group of friends, the boxes are curated around a particular theme, and always contain a book plus various book-related goodies and artsy items, usually from local creatives.

I’ve been following their Instagram for awhile now, and decided to order their Skipping A Heartbeat box for the month of May. Based on the name, I guessed it had something to do with romance – a genre I do not typically read – so it was two firsts for me: subscribing to a box service, and also getting a romance novel for the first time. The box was supposed to arrive in early May, but due to delayed shipment, I received it at the end of May instead.

And here’s the unboxing! PS: If you haven’t subscribed to my Youtube channel yet, why haven’t you? 😛 #shamelessplug

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A quick look at the items fresh out of the box. So aside from a romance novel called Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle, the box also includes a cute poster of couples from popular literature, a photo frame with an art print, a bookmark corner, a thoughtful note from the Bookish Bundle team which doubles as a decorative card, an Amortentia (Love Potion from the Harry Potter universe) brooch, and a homemade butter cookie.

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A nicer photo taken during the day (minus the cookie, because I was hungry).

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My favourite item of the lot – super adorable design!

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I’m one of those monsters that dog-ear my pages – but I guess I won’t have to do that now that I have this bookmark corner. The constellation pattern is nice too. BTW, Mybookbudz is a small local business that makes book sleeves and table sleeves. You can check them out and support the biz on Facebook.

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I’m not really one for posters, but the illustrations are cute. I also don’t recognise many of the characters because as I’ve said, I don’t read romance/drama often. The only ones I recognise here are Peeta Mallark/Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter, and Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight (latter I know from the movies, coz I didn’t read the books).

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The synopsis says it’s about a woman who inherits a house in the Smokies and goes to claim her inheritance, only to find that as part of the conditions, she has to share everything with a grouchy housekeeper. Haven’t had time to read this yet, but the summary reminds me of a Hong Kong movie from the 2000s called Summer Holiday.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my Bookish Bundle subscription box – there are some items I like more than others, but they’re all nice in their own way, and it feels good to be supporting local businesses whilst getting something I can enjoy.

If you’re keen on getting your own subscription box, go to instagram.com/bookishbundle – they regularly post updates and when orders are open for the next boxes. Each box is priced at RM95 for West Malaysia, and RM100 for East Malaysia (inclusive of shipping).

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May 2021: Another Bath & Body Works Haul

Once in awhile, you come across a deal that’s just too good to pass up.

At least, that’s how I felt when I saw that luxury and lifestyle conglomerate Valiram was having a sale for brands under its wing, including Bath & Body Works. Last Christmas, I went overboard with my shopping so I still have a tub of body butter to finish, but I couldn’t resist getting more lotions – because you don’t get deals like these too often. “But aren’t you just spending money for things that you could have done without?” you ask. Perhaps, but since I AM going to use them, I don’t think they’re a total waste of money, so shush. 😛

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The order came pretty fast and was nicely packaged.

Video if you’re lazy to read. Have you subscribed yet? #shamelessplug
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Of course, buying things on sale means you won’t be getting the latest products or much variety, but I think that’s a fair trade – and if you haven’t tried something before, isn’t it essentially ‘new’? At their regular price, each bottle costs RM75, so 3 would have been around RM220+, but I got all of these for just RM56 (excluding shipping) – which means a 75% discount. Don’t you think that’s a steal?

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The Winter Candy Apple has been a Christmas staple since 2014. If you like fruity scents, this one will be right up your alley, with fragrance notes of red apple, winter rose petals and candied orange, formulated with shea butter and added vitamin E.

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My favourite among the bunch is the Lovely Dreamer, which has notes of fluffy musk, clean woods and fresh bergamot. The delectable concoction is whipped to luxurious perfection with coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E.

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Last but not least, we have Forever Red. This is perfect for those romantic dinner dates (well, when we can go out again anyway), with top notes of fiery pomegranate, rare French peach and luminous apple, mid-notes of red peony, night marigold and red osmanthus, and dry notes of rich vanilla, velvety marshmallow and oak wood. If you’re envisioning a dessert of some kind, you’re not the only one. Dabbing some on before you sleep can help with relaxation; almost like aromatherapy.

With this, I am all set with my body care needs for the next 6 months!

Or at least until Christmas sale.

If you’re keen on grabbing some lotions, body shower gels or other pampering items, Valiram’s sale is still ongoing at valiram247.com. You can also shop for other luxury and lifestyle brands under their umbrella, including Michael Kors, Montblanc, Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, Tory Burch, Swarovski, and more.

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Why Tamarind Square in Cyberjaya Is Perfect For Photographers and Lovers of Architecture

Brutalist architecture is characterised by functional, ‘soulless’-looking buildings, which often incorporate raw concrete and massive, monolithic designs with rigid, block-like shapes. The style was especially popular in the Soviet Union and its former allied countries from the 1960s to 1980s. Over the years, brutalism fell out of favour due to its association with totalitarianism and its cold, unwelcoming appearance — but the style has been seeing a comeback in the last decade, albeit with softer features and fixtures.

Tamarind Square in Cyberjaya seems to be one of these places drawing inspiration from a hipper, more modern version of brutalism, and industrial architecture. Developed by Tujuan Gemilang, the commercial development was intended to promote a ‘tropical retail and office experience’, and is arranged in an 8-figure courtyard with a ring road circulating the premises.

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On their own, the buildings might have looked austere and clinical, but the impact is offset by beautifully landscaped plants. Here you will find curtains of green draped over the side of metal walkways and staircases, and a cooling stream runs through the centre of the courtyard, which is lined with shrubs.The greenery is in stark contrast to the square’s raw concrete floors, stone pillars and exposed brick. Personally, it gives me a feeling of an abandoned place reclaimed by nature — and it’s easy to feel you’ve been transported someplace else, especially when there aren’t many people around.

Walking tour here:

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Tamarind Square is spread across several blocks, with most of the shops concentrated on the lower floors of Block A. Aside from chic cafes and eateries, visitors will also find retail outlets selling clothing, eyewear and shops providing beauty and wellness services. The block is centred around a courtyard filled with plants and two-storey “stand-alone” shops. These are not connected to other shops within Block A, but can still be traversed via the ground floor and elevated walkways on the first floor. Pictured above is a shop called The Botanist (they serve artisan brewed coffee and handmade baos), which I’ve wanted to try for the longest time but unfortunately couldn’t on this particular visit. Other noteworthy cafes in the area include Herbs and Butter (Asian and Western fusion), Pastribella Bakeshop (cakes), Alcea Cafe (coffee spot) and Book Barter Cafe (they have book shelves where you can read while you sip on drinks).

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The layout of the place is such that you can round a corner and discover a ‘hidden’ nook, or staircases leading to your next adventure.

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The square is a popular place for photoshoots. During my visit, I counted no less than five couples, some with bridesmaids and best men in tow.
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Not all of the offices and retail spaces are occupied, which lends to the ‘abandoned’ vibe. But it’s good news for architectural photographers – you can basically take your time photographing and exploring without having to worry about crowds getting in your shot!

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Boardgame cafe
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I come to Tamarind Square mainly for BookXCess, which at 3,000 square metres, is the largest bookstore in Malaysia. Prior to the pandemic, it was also open 24 hours, so you could come for a spot of book-shopping if ever insomnia hits (is it just me?) Keeping to the theme, the store’s design is similarly industrial (it was apparently part of the car park — so you can see pillars with signs on them and yellow lines on the floor).

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Anddddddd self-control was defeated that day.

GETTING TO TAMARIND SQUARE CYBERJAYA

It’s best to drive or take a Grab, as public buses are few and far between, and do not stop directly at the Square. The nearest bus hub is the Cyberjaya Transport Terminal, 2 kilometres away. Driving, Tamarind Square is accessible via the MEX Highway from Kuala Lumpur, or if you’re coming from Puchong, the SKVE.

Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya

Tamarind Bldg Rd, Cyberjaya, 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor

https://www.tamarindsq.com/

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Picking Up A New Hobby: Embroidery

I think I’ve mentioned this many times before on my blog, but i’m not exactly good with my hands. There are people out there who have a natural affinity for this sort of thing (painting, pottery, fixing lightbulbs, cooking, etc.) — I, sadly, am not one of them.

As a kid, I always had my nose in a book, and while I could spout obscure trivia about ancient Egyptian religions, theories on evolution and how dinosaurs could have gone extinct, I couldn’t make or fix anything to save my life. I also sucked at sports. In short, I was (and still am), a big nerd. In an RPG, I’d probably be the wizard or some sort of priestess; all brains and no brawn. INT5, AGI, STR and DEX 0.

The hobbies I enjoy (and can stick to) tend to involve pursuits of the mind, like reading and blogging. Also, being an INTP with the attention span of a goldfish, I tend to flit from one hobby to another — usually whatever catches my fancy at the moment (I dabbled in drawing comics, making figurines, soap making, candle making). My interest usually fizzles out if:

a) I don’t get the hang of it within 2 sessions, or

b) I find that it’s actually pretty easy, and I get bored lol (I do sound like a fickle and hard-to-please person, don’t I?)

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So when I ordered an embroidery kit a couple of months ago, I surprised even myself. The idea of repeatedly poking a needle and thread through a piece of cloth didn’t exactly scream excitement, but I was bored of being stuck at home (thanks, COVID!) and wanted to do something different.

A couple of weeks prior, I had ordered some air-dried clay in a horribly misguided attempt at making polymer clay jewellery. After the first few pieces ended up looking like they came out of Satan’s butthole, I promptly gave up. My embroidery kit seemed set to end up in the same place; at the bottom of a box in a corner, together with the rest of my failed ‘projects’.

But then…

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I actually found stitching to be… oddly satisfying. And it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, even for my sausage fingers. Sure, I couldn’t pull off dainty, tiny stitches, but the ones I made seemed good enough for ‘everyday use’, so to speak. It was challenging enough to keep my interest, but not difficult to the point where I’d give up.

One of my biggest weaknesses is wanting fast and easy results — if I don’t pick up something immediately (or within a few tries), I tend to get discouraged and lose interest. To prevent this from happening, I chose a piece with an easy pattern: one that used basic, easy stitches even beginners could follow, but would still look nice enough for display.

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The first piece came together nicely, and although I messed up some parts, it still looked pretty good. Knowing how bad I am usually with handicrafts, and seeing that it was my first time, I felt a tiny surge of pride at the results.

Which prompted me to order another kit. And another.

At the time of this writing, I have completed three pieces, with three more to go. Not counting all the equipment and thread I bought separately.

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My second piece had a bit more colour, and I learned a few different stitching techniques.

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While I enjoy embroidery as an activity for relaxation – there are a couple of takeaways from this new hobby of mine, which I think are good to reflect on.

It’s okay not to be perfect

I am a perfectionist, and I often think that whatever I make doesn’t match up to the standards that I have in mind (A lifetime of being told you’re not good enough will do that to you). As a result, I often miss opportunities to showcase what I have, because of my pervasive fear of rejection and failure. That, and I refuse to present anything short of (what I think is) perfection. I miss out on a lot of things because my lack of self confidence holds me back; even if I have a great idea, I overthink things and end up not voicing them out at all. It’s true what they say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

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That’s just it though – in the real world, perfection rarely exists. Even when I was posting my second embroidery piece, I kept criticising my own stitching, despite other people telling me that it looked okay. It’s a bad habit, but being more aware of it means that I can actively take steps to prevent myself from getting into that head space. So yeah, it’s okay for that stitch to not be completely straight; I shouldn’t beat myself up about it. If anything, it adds character to the piece and shows that it’s made by a human, not a machine.

Practice

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As mentioned earlier, I have a short attention span and little patience. Unlike people who feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach a milestone after months (or even years) of hard work, the same concept when applied to me would just make me feel stupid and incompetent. I like to be able to grasp something quickly – which is why many of my projects have a great head start but run out of steam eventually. The reality is, many things require practice – Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have to constantly remind myself that it took years for masters to reach the pinnacle of their art, if ever.

You do You

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I follow many artists on Instagram, and it can be daunting to see how amazingly talented some people are. It can also feel like no matter how hard I work, or what I do (channeling some Rock Lee from Naruto here), I’ll never catch up to their level of genius – so why bother? This kind of apathy can be dangerous and soul crushing for aspiring creatives. Again, I have to constantly remind myself that I, too, can make good art and contribute useful ideas. Art is subjective, really – and there’s beauty in just the act of creating. Even if you’re the only person who admires your own art, as long as you’re working to create something and improving on your skills, then there is no such thing as ‘wasted’ effort. And that applies for things besides art. Like life, in general.

Currently, I’m looking to work on more pieces and if I’m comfortable enough, open up for commissions. Embroidery is a pretty expensive hobby when you count in the cost of materials and time, so I’m hoping that by doing so I can offset some of the costs. And who knows? Maybe this’ll be one of those things that will keep my interest as long as blogging has.

What are some of the projects that you’re currently working on? Have you picked up a new hobby during the pandemic? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about them.

And if you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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KFC Malaysia Released A “Zero Chicken Burger” – But It’s Not Vegan / Vegetarian-Friendly

You know what KFC is without the chicken?

Just KF.

…. Okay lame.

In all seriousness, woke up today and KFC’s icon on Facebook had turned green. Malaysians being Malaysians, there were many ‘mak kau hijau’ and ‘bila masa KFC dah join PAS ni?’ jokes. But it’s actually in conjunction with the launch of KFC’s new Zero Chicken Burger, a ‘chicken’ burger that – you guessed it – has no chicken. Singapore released theirs in January, so we’re a little late, but better late than never, right?

A collaboration between KFC and the meat substitute brand Quorn, the burger’s meat-free patty is ‘made with the original recipe of the 11 herbs and spices we know and love, topped with a slice of cheese and a splash of tangy BBQ sauce.’

Here’s the catch though: it’s neither vegan nor vegetarian. According to Singapore’s Today Online, the reason is because although the patties are plant-based (they’re made from mycoprotein from fungi) they’re fried in the same oil as some of KFC’s chicken products, and the mayonnaise is not vegan, since it’s made from eggs. It also has cheese.

Which begs the question: who is KFC targeting? They’ve made a meat-free burger, but people who don’t eat meat can’t enjoy it. The only answer I’m left with is people who think of it as a novelty. Because the only reason I go to KFC is, well, for the chicken. And if I wanted to eat vegan food, I’d go to a vegan resto.

Still, I think it’s a good attempt to introduce mock meat to the masses. When Beyond Burgers made headlines a couple of years ago, I was genuinely confused as to why it was such a big deal – Chinese restaurants have been making mock meat for ages; some of which taste almost like the real thing. But then I realised that there aren’t many people beyond the Chinese community who are actually aware of its existence. Especially in Malaysia, where there aren’t many people who adopt a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle (those who do usually do so for religious reasons > health reasons).

So for curious diners, you might want to give the KFC Zero Chicken Burger a try: the burger costs RM12.99 ala carte, and is available for a limited time only, while stocks last. The set goes for RM15.99.

As for me, I think I’ll stick with my chicks.

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Sipping Corner @ Plant & Pot Studio Puchong

Hidden at the back of a plant shop in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Sipping Corner by Plant & Pot Studio might just be the greenest cafe in the city. Opened last year, the place has already gained a loyal following – and because of its small capacity (the place seats about 15 at most), reservations are encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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If you do manage to get a seat, you’ll be well rewarded with a cool and relaxing spot to chill and sip on a drink, surrounded by foliage. The Cafe offers a selection of coffees (espresso, long black, honey americano, latte, cappucino) and teas (blue mint honey, red roselle honey), as well as signature beverages (Matcha, Salted Gula Melaka Latte, Matcha/Hojicha Latte). Baristas are very friendly and accommodating.

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Grab a sweet slice to go with your drink. Cakes range from RM13 to RM15 per slice.

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I didn’t dine-in coz the Moo finished her shopping and we had to make a move – but I got one of their signature drinks, the Salted Gula Melaka Latte, to go. The palm sugar was creamy and sweet, but it was well balanced thanks to the hint of saltiness.

If you’re looking for a quick green respite, drop by for tea time – but make sure to call in advance.

SIPPING CORNER @ PLANT & POT STUDIO

 78G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM (daily)

Phone: 018-578 6311

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Review: The Body Shop Christmas Scents 2020

Hey guys! There’s just a few more days to Christmas, and we all know what that means – Christmas promos!

Many shops, especially beauty and body care brands, are having sales and festive-season only collections. As someone with a weakness for body care products, it’s hard for me to resist the beautiful, sparkly displays and gift packages. And so it is that I finally succumbed … and got myself some treats from The Body Shop.

I like The Body Shop because they carry a wide range of really nice scents. While I only buy from them once or twice a year, I’m always satisfied with the products and customer service.

This year’s festive range is decidedly Christmas-y, and features three exclusive scents: Warm Vanilla, Winter Jasmine and Festive Berry, available across a range of items such as their body yogurt, body butter, hand and nail cream, and shower gel.

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The shop was running a promo through its social media app, whereby any purchase would be entitled to a free body scrub, so I got the cheapest available item (30ml hand cream – RM25 /discounted RM22.50) and had it shipped to my house. It arrived after 4 working days.

Vanilla is one of my favourite scents, but the Warm Vanilla was a tad disappointing for me. It’s sweet and very strong, and it reminds me of cake. No doubt some people will like this, but it just smells very artificial to me.

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The free 50ml Festive Berry body scrub that came with my hand cream is touted to help exfoliate and refine the skin. I have used it a couple of times in the shower, and it’s pretty good. The consistency is like strawberry jam, and it smells like that too, what with the berry and sugar crystal blend.

You can get the small tub as part of The Body Shop’s festive gift box (RM139), but if you want to purchase the scrub on its own, it’s only available in 250ml jars at RM113.

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My favourite of the lot has to be the Winter Jasmine Body Butter, which coincidentally was the most expensive item I got (RM84, 20% discount for The Body Shop members). It was worth the splurge, though.

The butter is creamy and luxurious, and it looked so smooth and luscious when I first opened the tub I almost felt like it was a shame to use any lol. The floral scent is sweet and relaxing – it reminds me of aromatherapy oils and spa fragrances that they use at massage parlours to help you relax. The skin feels soft and hydrated after application, and you get the smell of jasmine just wafting off of you : best to apply before sleeping !

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If you’re looking to gift, The Body Shop has a variety of items catering to different budgets, all in beautiful packaging. If I had the money, I’d buy them all lol.

But perhaps someone wants to get me something for Christmas? 🙂

Shop online at www.thebodyshop.com.my.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

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